Give High School Journalists Their First Amendment Rights

Student With Camera by AiClassEland

Target: Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois

Goal: Give high school journalists full freedom of speech.

A bill that would prevent censorship of articles by high school journalism students was passed by Illinois’s state senate and house of representatives, and now it is up to the governor to sign it into law. It is unfair that students do not have the same rights as adults, for their speech is just as valid adults’. This bill needs to become law as soon as possible.

In 1988, the Supreme Court case Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier ruled that a school administrator could censor school-sponsored newspapers without violating the First Amendment rights of student journalists. This new bill would give student journalists the right to publish whatever news or opinions they deem worthy, even if the school district disapproves of the content. It would also protect teachers from being fired for trying to defend student journalists. Of course this does not mean that student journalists can print libelous or slanderous speech, nor can they encourage students to break school rules.

College students in Illinois already have this right, as do high school students in other states, including California, North Dakota, and Maryland. According to the Student Press Law Center, this bill would be “one of the nation’s strongest laws protecting the independence of high school journalism.”

This bill would give student journalists the same rights as adult journalists, and it is not unprecedented since other states have similar laws. This bill is would only be beneficial, causing no harm to anyone. The only thing that can be said against it is that it hadn’t been proposed sooner. Sign this petition and demand that this bill be passed into law.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Rauner,

The Supreme Court case Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier stripped student journalists of their right to free speech, but a new bill that has been passed through the Illinois legislature aims to give it back to them. The bill will allow students to publish whatever they want without the fear of censorship, and it will also protect teachers from being fired for trying to defend the students.

The student journalists will be given the same rights as adult journalists, nothing more or less. They still can not print libelous or slanderous speech, nor can they encourage students to break school rules. If this is not enough to convince you, then consider that other states, including California, North Dakota, and Maryland, have already passed similar laws. This bill has precedent, so it would not be a huge risk to pass it. Please give students their rights and sign this bill into law.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: AiClassEland

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